Light-weight tandem shaped charge warhead

Improved blast shield configuration yields an overall weight reduction of nearly 30 percent

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Camp Buehring, Kuwait – Army Pvt. Hayden Johnson, center, a cavalry scout with the Mississippi Army National Guard’s Troop B, 1st Squadron, 98th Cavalry Regiment, aims an FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missile with a tandem shaped charge warhead. (Image Credit: Spc. Jovi Prevot)

Army Research Laboratory scientist achieves significant size and weight reductions while protecting the rear charge from damage in time-delay tandem shaped charge warheads. The patented technology is available via license agreement to companies that would make, use, or sell it commercially.

Tandem-shaped charge warheads comprise a forward charge and a rear charge separated by a blast shield. The forward charge fires first and disrupts the outer armor of the target. After a very short time delay, generally less than 500 microseconds, the rear charge fires and penetrates the remaining armor of the target. The system is protected from damage and premature detonation by a blast shield between the charges. As the time delay increases to 2000 microseconds and beyond, the blast shield must be fortified to protect the rearward components. Traditionally this was achieved by slowing down the blast shield velocity through increasing its mass, which resulted in a heavier warhead.

The challenge of reducing the size and weight of the blast shield, while still protecting the rear charge from damage, has been addressed by an ARL scientist.

In the improved ARL developed tandem shaped charge warhead, the forward shaped charge liner remains essentially unaltered but the amount of explosive surrounding it, is significantly reduced. This reduction in the amount and weight of explosive is compensated for by confining the forward charge in a thick metal casing. The casing keeps the pressure high enough to allow the shaped charge liner to collapse in the usual manner, while also reducing the explosive weight by 50 to 75 percent. This, in turn, dramatically reduces the possibility of damage to the rear charge. The total warhead length decreases by 20 to 40 percent, and the overall weight by 10 to 30 percent.

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